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Genes and Crime

A growing body of empirical evidence over the last decade has shown that genetic factors play a causal role in the development of antisocial behaviors, many of which correlate positively with crime. While all people occasionally engage in some forms of antisocial acts, a few repeat offenders begin their offenses at an early age and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of criminal activity. Scholars characterize these individuals by their impulsivity and aggression; they are more likely to develop conduct disorders like antisocial personality.

To the extent that attributes such as violence, aggression, and antisociality are heritable, criminality has a genetic basis. However, adopting this simplified deterministic view of a “gene for crime” would be a mistake. The actual interplay is far more complex. Genes associated ...

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